The Dominion Post  

University boys whip Preston in opener, 85-51

Created on:   Wed, Dec 6, 2017   11:41 PM

Last modified:   Wed, Dec 6, 2017   11:40 PM

The Dominion Post

KINGWOOD — The gym at Preston High may need to be repaired after University’s Kaden Metheny and K.J. McClurg shot the lights out during the Dec. 6 contest against the Knights.

The dynamic duo combined for six buckets from behind the 3-point arc as the Hawks routed Preston, 85-51.

The game served as the season opener for both squads.

“I’m not real happy with the way we played, but I saw some good things out of some of our players,” University head coach Joe Schmidle said. “Overall, it was a typical first game. I was happier in the second and third quarter, when we shared the ball a bit better.”

The Hawks opened the game firing on all cylinders defensively, locking in with a full-court press at the first opportunity. They spent the evening selling out to steal passes and trapping to force turnovers, and created a turnover margin that the Knights couldn’t overcome.

“Our effort on defense was good,” Schmidle said. “Not where we need to be by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re getting better. Our pressure bothered them.”

Paul Koontz, head coach at Preston, said his team expected to see the high-pressure defense, but could only do so much against it.

“We knew that was coming, and I told the kid there was a hurricane coming to town tonight,” Koontz said. “We did the best we could with it, and we’ll not see too many teams with that type of pressure this year. That was great pressure.”

Led by Metheny, who scored 12 of his 22 in the first eight minutes, the Knights jumped to a 30-11 lead by the end of the opening period. The Hawks piled on 18 more in the second, with 2016-’17 all-state selection Ethan Ridgeway tallying half of them. The Knights fought valiantly to stay alive, but were outscored again in the second, and entered the halftime break trailing, 48-22.

The Hawks returned to the court strong in the second half, dropping a 25-point quarter as they widened the gap to 40. Preston, whose offense struggled to hit shots consistently and advance the ball past the aggressive University defense all night, put together an improved showing in the fourth, outscoring the Hawks, 18-12. Unfortunately for Knights fans, the damage had already been done, and the Hawks pulled their starters midway through the fourth on the way to a comfortable victory.

“I think we’re about where I thought we would be,” Schmidle said. “We have to figure out who we are right now, and we have to try and improve on the thing we saw this evening.”

Koontz shared similar thoughts about his team’s showing, and was proud of the fighting spirit.

“We’re in a good place where I thought we would be. We were competitive at times, and even though we got down early, we never quit battling,” Koontz said. “We kept our heads up, and we just have some fundamental things we need to get fixed.”

Koontz added that he was appreciative of all of the fans who came out and supported his squad.

“I really want to thank all of the folks who came out to the game,” Koontz said. “This is the first time that this gym has been full in a while, and I hope the fans don’t give up on us.”

The Hawks were paced by Ridgeway, with 23 points, followed by Metheny, with 22, and McClurg, who tallied 15 off the bench. Clay Bailey collected five steals and seven assists.

The Knights were led by Hayden Park and Nick Smith with nine points apiece, followed by Jake Livengood, with eight.

Preston will take the court next on Friday, at Morgantown, while University will do battle with Buckhannon-Upshur the same night. Both games are schedule to tip off at 7:30 p.m.